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Main research question/goal
This international research project focuses on the innovative concept of protein-hybrid charcuterie (cold cuts), with partly animal (meat) and partly vegetable proteins. The classic meat products such as salami, cooked sausage or chicken nuggets contain not only 75% moisture but also around 3% fat, 2% carbohydrates and 20% protein. Animal protein is known to be one of the few proteins in which all amino acids essential to humans are present. On the other hand, society is calling for reduced meat consumption (the 'protein transition') and to strive for ecologically more sustainable and healthier food. Cold cuts with a protein fraction sourced from animal and vegetable sources (hybrid), could fit into this endeavor, and could offer an opportunity to further align the total amino acid profile to favorable health effects. In this project, potential vegetable protein sources include pea, potato and pumpkin. The intention is initially to address the technical challenges of making hybrid charcuterie products.

Research approach
From a long list of protein-rich plant products (pea, potato, pumpkin, etc.) we first make a screening. The vegetable proteins must first be mixed, among others, with animal proteins in a humid environment and at the correct pH interval. We determine the co-solubility in function of mixing ratios, salt levels, temperature and meat product. This is being investigated to facilitate the production of hybrid mixtures or dough. We experiment with the extrusion technique to produce "structured" textures that can be used in formulations. For this we also test other mechanical operations. We empirically investigate how classical final processing techniques (filling in casings, heating, drying, smoking, freezing) should be adjusted in the case of hybrid meat-plant mixtures. We determine the aroma profiles and organoleptic properties, oxidative stability, the nutritional value of the end product and sustainability aspects. In addition to this approach, one of the German scientific partners is also studying consumer perceptions and expected taste profiles around a new type of products made with meat and vegetable proteins. We also look at the legal provisions in Europe. Currently the legal limit is up to 20% of non-meat proteins in the total protein content.


This project delivers lots of information for innovative meat processors that is valuable during their development of sustainable and high-quality hybrid meat products that also meet the taste demands of the consumer. Answers are given to the questions 1) how hybrid meat products should be composed in order to obtain high consumer acceptance and a nutritional optimal amino acid composition, 2) how they should be processed to obtain chemically and physically stable and high-quality end products, 3) how possible off-flavors in these products can be minimized and 4) to what extent hybrid products can be a sustainable alternative to conventional meat products (in terms of of LCA).

Effective start/end date1/07/1731/12/19

ID: 5648255